Nintendo Co Ltd slashed its annual earnings outlook for the second time this year to just break-even on Thursday, as the soaring yen and weak software sales dealt a fresh blow to the former games industry champion.

The company tumbled to a 19.6 billion yen ($258 million) operating loss for the July-September period, worse than it had forecast and falling short of market expectations. That compares with a 30.9 billion yen profit in the same period last year.

The games giant behind the Super Mario franchise also slashed its full-year operating profit forecast to just 1 billion yen from 35 billion yen.

It cut its forecast for sales of 3DS software to 50 million units from 70 million units for the year to March, but left its 3DS hardware forecast at 16 million units for the year.

Nintendo has been battling competition from traditional rivals Microsoft Corp and Sony Corp while Apple Inc and Google are also making rapid inroads into the casual gaming market.

The Kyoto-based company, which generates 80 percent of its sales overseas, also faces a massive hit in earnings from the soaring yen, which has crushed the value of profits repatriated from abroad, especially from the euro zone.

($1 = 75.990 Japanese Yen)

(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Edwina Gibbs)